Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Monday, April 18, 2005

papal update

Fact of the Week
John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit a synagogue. In 1986, he went to the synagogue in Rome, where he referred to the Jewish people as "our elder brothers."

Black smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel where 115 cardinals gathered to elect a new pope today - the black smoke signaled "no go" basically...!
Aw, well - maybe tomorrow, eh?
If the new pope is to be the last, they got get it just right - prophecy has a special role for the last pope to play... ;)

Historic Conclave to Elect a New Pope Apr 18, 2:58 AM (ET) By WILLIAM J. KOLE

VATICAN CITY (AP) - In a historic gathering steeped in intrigue, cardinals from six continents assembled Monday for their first conclave of the new millennium to elect a pope who will inherit John Paul II's mantle and guide the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into a new era.

Representing 52 countries, the 115 crimson-robed "princes" of a church stung by priest sex-abuse scandals and an exodus of the faithful were to celebrate a midmorning Mass at St. Peter's Basilica before sequestering themselves in the Sistine Chapel in the late afternoon.

There, seated atop a false floor hiding electronic jamming devices designed to thwart eavesdroppers, they were to take an oath of secrecy, hear a meditation from a senior cardinal and decide whether to take a first vote or wait until Tuesday.

"The new pope has already been chosen by the Lord. We just have to pray to understand who he is," Florence Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, considered by some to be a dark-horse candidate, told believers who gathered for Sunday Mass at his titular church in Rome.

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists were expected to converge on St. Peter's Square to watch the chapel chimney for the white smoke that ultimately will tell the world that the church's 265th pontiff has been elected. The famous stove in the chapel also will bellow black smoke to signal any inconclusive round of voting.

Although the conclave could last for days, a pope could be chosen as early as Monday afternoon if the red-capped prelates opt to begin casting ballots after their solemn procession from the Vatican's Apostolic Palace to the chapel.

If they decide to hold off a day, they will hold four rounds of voting - two in the morning, two in the afternoon - on Tuesday and every day until a candidate gets two-thirds support: 77 votes. If they remain deadlocked late in the second week of voting, they can vote to change the rules so a winner can be elected with a simple majority: 58 votes.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said smoke from burned ballot papers enhanced by special chemicals likely could be seen at around noon and around 7 p.m. on each day of voting by the cardinal electors, all of whom are under age 80. At some point soon after the new pope is chosen, the Vatican also will ring bells.

On Sunday, the cardinals moved into the super-secure Domus Sanctae Marthae, the $20 million hotel that John Paul had constructed inside Vatican City so the cardinals could rest in comfort in private rooms between voting sessions. Swiss Guards, their brightly colored uniforms covered by dark rain gear, saluted the prelates as they were whisked to the residence in limousines.

The daily La Stampa said cardinals gearing up for a stressful stretch of days had packed CD players and headphones in their bags along with prayer books and snacks to nibble on in their rooms.

Conspicuously missing from their quarters were cell phones, newspapers, radios, TVs and Internet connections - all banned in new rules laid down by John Paul II to minimize the chances of news influencing their secret deliberations and to prevent leaks to the outside world. The Vatican's security squad swept the chapel for listening devices, and cooks, maids, elevator operators and drivers were sworn to secrecy. Excommunication is a possible punishment for any indiscretions.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that made John Paul II pope in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days. He died April 2 at 84 after a pontificate that lasted more than 26 years, history's third-longest papacy.

Cardinals faced a choice that boiled down to two options: an older, skilled administrator who could serve as a "transitional" pope while the church absorbs John Paul's legacy, or a younger dynamic pastor and communicator - perhaps from Latin America or elsewhere in the developing world where the church is growing - who could build on the late pontiff's popularity over a quarter-century of globe-trotting.

The prelates agreed after John Paul's funeral not to talk publicly about the process, but the world's news media have been rife with speculation centering on about two dozen candidates considered "papabile," Italian for "pope material."

The name with the biggest buzz was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a powerful Vatican official from Germany who was to recite an opening prayer in Latin that the voters be guided "in our hearts, in love and in patience."

Among the issues sure to figure prominently in the conclave: containing the priest sex-abuse scandals that have cost the church millions in settlements in the United States; coping with a chronic shortage of priests and nuns in the West; halting the stream of people leaving a church whose teachings they no longer find relevant; and improving dialogue with the Islamic world.

Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, an Italian who at 86 is too old to vote, told Italian state radio Sunday he was confident the conclave would be guided to the right man.

"Providence sends a pope for every era," he said.
Black Smoke Signals No New Pope Elected
Apr 18, 6:07 PM (ET) By BRIAN MURPHY

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Black smoke streamed from the Sistine Chapel's chimney Monday to signal that cardinals failed to select a new pope in their first round of voting, held just hours after they began their historic task: finding a leader capable of building on John Paul II's spiritual energy while keeping modern rifts from tearing deeper into the church.

"It seems white. ... No, no, it's black!" reported Vatican Radio as the first pale wisps slipped out from the narrow pipe and then quickly darkened.

As millions around the world watched on television, at least 40,000 people waited in St. Peter's Square with all eyes on the chimney, where smoke from the burned ballots would give the first word of the conclave: white meaning a new pontiff, black showing that the secret gathering will continue Tuesday.

In the last moments of twilight, the pilgrims began to point and gasp. "What is it? White? Black?" hundreds cried out. In a few seconds - at about 8:05 p.m. - it was clear the 115 cardinals from six continents could not find the two-thirds majority needed to elect the new leader for the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics. Only one vote was held Monday.

Few expected a quick decision. The cardinals have a staggering range of issues to juggle. In the West, they must deal with the fallout from priest sex-abuse scandals and a chronic shortage of priests and nuns. Elsewhere, the church is facing calls for sharper activism against poverty and an easing of its ban on condoms to help combat AIDS.

The next pontiff also must maintain the global ministry of John Paul, who took 104 international trips in his 26-year papacy and is already being hailed as a saint by many faithful.

"Keep praying for the new pope," said 82-year-old Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez of Puerto Rico, who was too old to join the conclave, open to cardinals only under age 80.

It was the first time in more than a generation that crowds stared at the chimney for the famous smoke and word of a new pope. In that time, the church has been pulled in two directions: a spiritual renaissance under John Paul but battered by scandals and a flock pressing for less rigid teachings.

But in chilly St. Peter's Square, thoughts were only on who will next appear under the crimson drapes at the basilica's central window as the 265th pontiff.

"We thought it was white, then it went black. I had a feeling of exhilaration followed by disappointment," said Harold Reeves, a 35-year-old theology student from Washington.

Added 20-year-old Italian student Silvia Mariano: "You can't describe the feeling. When the smoke came out it looked white and I got chills."

Even before the conclave began, one of the possible candidates - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - tried to set a tone of urgency.

His homily in a special memorial Mass for the pope warned that the church must take a strict line about moral drift and "a dictatorship of relativism" that fights the idea of absolute truths.

"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism," said Ratzinger, 78, who has been the Vatican's chief overseer of doctrine since 1981. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."

Only after listing a series of perceived threats to the church - from Marxism to "radical individualism" - did he note the duty ahead for the cardinals, who must remain cut off from all outside contact until they pick a new pontiff.

"At this time, above all, we pray with insistence to the Lord, so that after the great gift of Pope John Paul II, he again gives us a pastor according to his own heart, a pastor who guides us to knowledge in Christ, to his love and to true joy," he said from the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica under the towering bronze baldacchino canopy from the 17th century.

About five hours later, the cardinals assembled for the procession into the Sistine Chapel.

Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, read out an oath for complete secrecy about the voting. Then he began a prayer in Latin. "May the Lord lead our steps on the path of truth," it began.

Walking two by two, they chanted the Litany of the Saints. Altar servers carrying two long, burning candles and a metal crucifix led the way, past a line of Swiss Guards in red-plumed hats and up two marble steps into the chapel - where two rows of tables and chairs were set up for the voting and deliberations.

They bowed before the altar, with its backdrop of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" depicting Jesus among people ascending to heaven and falling to hell. Then they took their places, which were marked by white name cards.

Each was provided a green book, "Ordo Rituum Conclavis," which spells out rules for the conclave. Only two of the cardinals were at the last conclave more than 26 years ago.

Some leaned on their chairs for support as the cardinals filed one by one to the Gospels, which rested open on a wooden stand.

For 30 minutes, they each placed a right hand - with the gold ring of the cardinals - on the Holy Book and again pledged never to reveal what will occur in the conclave. The penalty is severe: excommunication.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., the papal master of ceremonies, Italian Archbishop Piero Marini, announced "Extra omnes" - Latin for "all out." The huge oak doors closed behind the papal electors: 113 cardinals in vivid crimson and white robes and two Eastern Rite prelates in black.

In St. Peter's Square, thousands of pilgrims watching a Vatican video feed broke into applause at the image of the doors swinging shut.

"Viva il papa," chanted some Italian schoolgirls. "Long live the pope."

Two Rome-based nuns from Congo planned to pray before the tomb of John Paul II in a grotto under the basilica.

"We want to join the cardinals spiritually as they elect a new pope," said Sister Catherine Mabisombi, 48, dressed in an African print outfit.

She looked over to the papal residence, where the shutters remained closed.

"Seeing (the pope's) windows closed now gives us a strange feeling," she said. "We feel the need to know that someone is guiding the church."

Under conclave's rules, four rounds of voting begin Tuesday - two in the morning, two in the afternoon - until one man gets two-thirds support: 77 votes. If they remain deadlocked late in the second week of voting, they can go to a simple majority: 58 votes.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that made John Paul II pope in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days.


Associated Press Writers Nicole Winfield, Daniela Petroff, Niko Price, Angela Doland and Frances D'Emilio contributed to this story. And Luciano vampirized it... *LOL*
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